PRISON DIARIES

Eleventh Hour: South Africa reacts with relief after Jacob Zuma taken into police custody, ANC calls for calm

By Carien du Plessis 8 July 2021
Caption
A motorcade leaves former president Jacob Zuma's homestead in Nkandla just after 11pm on 7 July 2021. Leading up to the midnight deadline, Zuma's lawyers have been trying to keep him from serving a 15-month jail sentence handed down by the Constitutional Court. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

Former president Jacob Zuma kept South Africans in suspense — and awake — until the eleventh hour, but when news broke that he had been taken into custody about 40 minutes before midnight, they reacted with a mixture of sympathy, relief and joy. ANC called on its members to “remain calm and respect the decision taken by former president Jacob Zuma to abide by the rulings of the court”.

Carien du Plessis

Jacob Zuma was convicted in the Constitutional Court last week of contempt after he disregarded a court order to testify in front of the State Capture Inquiry, and then he ignored it again by failing to report to a police station before Sunday to start his 15-month prison sentence. On Wednesday night the police confirmed that he was placed in their custody.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said it was without doubt “a difficult period in the movement”. He said the ANC called on its members to “remain calm and respect the decision taken by former president Jacob Zuma to abide by the rulings of the court”.

He said the party has “always restated its unequivocal commitment to and defence of the Constitution, in particular, the supremacy of the Constitution, the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary, amongst the founding principles and values of the Republic of South Africa”.

Members of the Defend our Democracy campaign, many of whom are ANC stalwarts, said it was “an important step in affirming the principle that all are equal before the law”.

The organisation said it noted the various legal processes still under way — Zuma’s application to the Constitutional Court to rescind its order will be heard on Monday, and he is also facing corruption charges in the Pietermaritzburg High Court — and called on people “to respect the outcomes of court proceedings as they unfold”.

It said: “In light of the reports, it is imperative that individuals, organisations, as well as political parties and formations, react in a manner that is reasonable, responsible and lawful. This moment requires us all to put the interests of our democracy first and uphold the Constitution and rule of law.”

A passenger from a motorcade, presumably transporting former president Jacob Zuma, leaves his homestead in Nkandla just after 11pm on 7 July 2021. Leading up to the midnight deadline, Zuma’s lawyers have been trying to keep him from serving a 15-month jail sentence handed down by the Constitutional Court. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

ANC NEC member Derek Hanekom, who is also chair of the Ahmed Kathrada Foundation, did not want to comment, but tweeted: “That’s it. A victory for the rule of law.”

ANC stalwart Mavuso Msimang said he was glad that the “drama surrounding Jacob Zuma’s imprisonment is finally over. More so, that it happened without any violence.” He said threats by the former president’s supporters that they were willing to lay down their lives to prevent him from being arrested were a dangerous provocation. “Fortunately, law enforcement called their bluff,” he said. “This, indeed, is a sad chapter in the former president’s life. Most importantly, our constitutional democracy won the day.”

The Democratic Alliance simply tweeted a picture of Zuma in orange overalls asking: “Could this be the start of a trend for corrupt ANC officials? South Africa deserves better! #ZumaArrest”. 

This was after party leader John Steenhuisen said earlier that President Cyril Ramaphosa should speak up and insist on Zuma’s arrest because “we cannot afford to let a military coup and Constitutional crisis unfold under our watch”.

Suspended ANC Secretary-General Ace Magashule, who went to Nkandla over the weekend to tell supporters to defy the party’s leadership, responded to the JG Zuma Foundation’s tweet confirming his incarceration, with a heartfelt message aimed at Zuma: “Be strong now because things will get better. It might be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever. We soldier on.”

Fellow Zuma enthusiast, Carl Niehaus, whose ANC membership was suspended earlier on Wednesday, tweeted that he had seen Zuma before he “left for prison”. In contrast to claims from Zuma’s lawyers that he was too sickly to go to jail, Niehaus tweeted: “He was strong as usual. This is heartbreaking. I am heartbroken and very angry. I will never forgive those who have allowed this to happen.”

Zuma’s daughter Duduzile tweeted around the same time that it became clear that Zuma was going to prison: “Cdes, we celebrate the imprisonment of the Freedom Fighter @PresJGZuma. Cdes, we celebrate the incarceration of the only man who remained loyal to @MYANC. Cdes, no retreat, no surrender in fighting WMC and their proxy’s in our Leadership. Amandla.”

In a subsequent tweet, she said she had spoken to her father as he was “en route” and that he was still in high spirits. She continued: “He said that he hopes they still have his same overalls from Robben Island and we laughed hard that at least he won’t struggle with Afrikaans this time round. We salute dad!” DM

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All Comments 10

    • Niehaus was threatening a coup, whether he actually meant to follow through or not with Jacob’s supporters last night was another story.

  • Hopefully this will be the last of the jz motorcade? He will loose all his ‘presidential’ privileges now that he is in prison, won’t he?

    • I think the person shuffled away in an ambulance was one of his wives. Probably found out that they’re going to be out on the street soon with Zuma losing his pay for life.

  • How the ANC deals with this rabble rousing faction which continues to wear its once celebrated colours publicly, is going to be interesting ? This faction is intent on destroying (certainly bring into disrepute at least) whatever little character remains of a once ‘proud’ organisation. As for the legal clowns who have been ‘advising’ JZ, the less said the better ! That any of them will face suspension (and pending disbarment) for bringing the legal profession into disrepute, remains to be seen. Of course … at a judicial level, there is also the issue of the two retired justices who whitewashed a report on the arms deal investigation … and their attempts to weasel their way out of accountability. Notwithstanding the slippery Hlope to justice being done !

  • The Idiot of Nkandla drove these twins’ mother to suicide. Amazing how pitifully dumb and arrogant they turning out.

  • “We didn’t start the fire” Its been smouldering for years, ANC must sort out their own nonesense, not keep expecting the tax payer to suffer, for all this legal mitigation, that looks like carrying on for next however many years . Just find some backbone and throw out all the bad wood.
    Trouble is, that is like throwing the baby out with the bath water !!!!!

  • Just for today…

    Forget the noise. Forget the hype. Forget that in all likelihood a deal was cut that will see Zuma living in five star prison and out on weekends. Forget how badly the ANC have decimated South Africa.

    This is a big moment – revel in it.

    • And Mr Steenhuisen should stop crowing and get his house in order so we can still have an effective opposition in this country. Stop letting the Gift of the Givers steal the thunder ( and possible votes) the DA could be garnishing on the front lines. Stop using party funds to fight legal battles over name calling and use the funds to feed hungry children, build effective social infrastructure in informal settlements, ensure the elderly receive compassionate care, organize the homeless and getting communities to assist each other. The DA have the support of the business community, the taxpayer and those sick to death of the corruption over the last 10 yrs. The time has come….don’t waste it Mr Steenhuizen.

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